A softball player from Hillside High School said she felt like she was forced to cut beads out of her hair during a game this past April. And now there’s an update:
Backstory: The hair beads in Nicole Pyles’ knotless braids became the focus of the game when the coaches from the other team claimed that they couldn’t see her jersey number because of her hair. A photo from the game shows that her number was clearly visible. Nicole said she’s worn the sale during play before.
Later during the game, umpires said that her hair beads were a safety issue and told Nicole that she had to take them out or she couldn’t play. That’s when her team gathered around and started helping her remove the beads. Some of the beads had to be cut out.
“My team, all of my friends were cutting out some of my beads. They snatched some of the beads out of my hair,” described Pyles. “I felt just so embarrassed and disrespected and just distraught at that point.”
A statement from the N.C. High School Athletic Association reads:
“The NCHSAA is aware of the report that a young lady at Hillside High School cut her hair to remove hair beads in order to stay in the game against Jordan High School on April 19, 2021. The NCHSAA is a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) which is the organization that helps provide uniform playing rules for high school athletics across the nation. As a member of the NFHS, the NCHSAA follows all NFHS playing rules and regulations, including Softball rule 3-2-5 which states that ‘Plastic visors, bandanas and hair-beads are prohibited.’
“This is not a new rule, and when the violation was noticed by an umpire, the proper determination of illegal equipment was verified as supported by NFHS rule. Further, according to NFHS Softball Rule 3-5-1, prior to the start of a contest, it is the responsibility of each coach to verify to the plate umpire that all his or her players are legally equipped and that players and equipment are in compliance with all NFHS rules.
“We empathize with the student athlete and her experience. It is truly unfortunate, as we believe this situation should never have occurred. The NCHSAA expectation is that coaches will know the playing rules and ensure that their players are also aware of them prior to participating in any athletic contest.”
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